Sunday, August 31, 2014 — Will Tiny Chattanooga Lead America Out of Conservative Darkness?

It’s appar­ent that not all of rural Amer­ica is pre­pared to let the forces of Con­ser­vatism drive them into poverty and feu­dal serfdom. 

The City of Chattanooga’s local pub­lic power author­ity had a prob­lem a few years ago. They were plagued with power out­ages. The city esti­mated losses of about $100m annu­ally to local busi­ness merely from power out­ages. Like most small cities in the U.S., Chattanooga’s econ­omy was dead in the water. The solu­tion, for the power author­ity, was to install a fiber-optic sys­tem to com­mu­ni­cate with the dig­i­tal equip­ment on the grid. This new tech­nol­ogy would elim­i­nate most out­ages and quicken restora­tion times when they occurred, plus ren­der main­te­nance more effi­cient and sig­nif­i­cantly lower oper­at­ing costs. The plan was to build the sys­tem for $220m (the cost of an indoor shop­ping mall) financed by a local bond issue, and to fin­ish the work in ten years. Dur­ing con­struc­tion, Obama’s Recov­ery Act took effect, and it turned out that they qual­i­fied for $110m of Fed­eral money, which meant that the project could be fin­ished in three years. Now here’s the inter­est­ing part. At some point in the process (I’m not sure when), they real­ized that they were actu­ally build­ing a super-fast inter­net cable sys­tem, and that they could pro­vide every­one in Chat­tanooga with inter­net ser­vice run­ning at 1 gig per sec­ond —- about fifty times faster than the U.S. average. 

Random screen test of Chattanooga's public utility internet service.

Ran­dom screen test of Chattanooga’s pub­lic util­ity inter­net service.

Chat­tanoogans now enjoy the fastest inter­net ser­vice in the U.S.. In fact, it is among the fastest in the world — at below the cost of the crappy inter­net “ser­vice” pro­vided by Cor­po­rate Com­mu­nism. When Time Warner Cable went down, last week, Chat­tanoogans chuck­led. Not sur­pris­ingly, Cor­po­rate Com­mu­nism is fight­ing back, with the usual bliz­zard of law­suits, Fox­Pravda scream­ing pro­pa­ganda, cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions, bribes and secret slush funds. A few days ago, the US tele­coms indus­try called on the FCC to block Chattanooga’s plan to expand it’s ser­vice, and to pre­vent a small city in North Car­olina from build­ing a sim­i­lar sys­tem. You aren’t going to find out about Chattanooga’s suc­cess on Fox­Pravda. I only learned of it from a British news­pa­per. It is already ille­gal for munic­i­pal­i­ties to do what Chat­tanooga did in twenty states, and the lat­est bat­tle­ground is — you guessed it! — Kansas, where the Con­ser­v­a­tive ide­o­log­i­cal fanatic Sam Brown­back has done more dam­age to the econ­omy than any­one since Quantrill’s Raiders.

What has been the out­come of pub­lic utility-based inter­net ser­vice, locally pro­vided and con­trolled? Chat­tanooga has gone from zero ven­ture cap­i­tal investors in 2009 to five highly active groups. These are financ­ing a vari­ety of busi­ness incu­ba­tors which are pulling Chat­tanooga out of the dol­drums. One of them is in the city’s pre­vi­ously aban­doned down­town depart­ment store. Tech entre­pre­neurs are flock­ing to the small city in the Appalachian moun­tains. The city has expe­ri­enced a surge of cul­tural growth, with lit­er­ary and jazz fes­ti­vals, and revi­tal­iz­ing down­town neigh­bour­hoods. Local hos­pi­tals are using their high speed ser­vice to con­struct and trans­mit 3D mod­els of patients’ inter­nal con­di­tions in real time, a fan­tas­tic help to sur­geons, but they com­plain that it stops at the city lim­its, beyond which prim­i­tive inter­net ser­vice still rules. The city seems to be bub­bling with ideas. It is, for exam­ple, the only city with it’s own pro­pri­etary type­face, devel­oped locally and financed by crowdfunding. 

I remem­ber Chat­tanooga (pop­u­la­tion 170,000) fondly from its friendly, infor­mal sci­ence fic­tion con­ven­tions, and from a long hike in its fan­tas­ti­cally beau­ti­ful moun­tain hin­ter­land. Here is a pic­ture of Chattanooga’s mayor Andy Berke, and that grin isn’t fake.

Andy Berke (D), mayor of Chattanooga

Andy Berke (D), mayor of Chattanooga

The prim­i­tive sav­agery play­ing out in Fer­gus­son, Mis­souri is not the real Amer­ica. That’s the Koch Broth­ers’ enslaved Amer­ica. This is the real thing. Amer­i­cans will even­tu­ally rid them­selves of the ide­o­log­i­cal chains of Con­ser­vatism, just as much of the world threw off the chains of its iden­ti­cal twin, Com­mu­nism. This is the start.

FILMSAUGUST 2014

(Lemont 1961) Konga
(Neu­mann 1950) Rock­et­ship X-M [Mys­tery Sci­ence The­atre ver­sion]
(Tarkovsky 1960) The Steam­roller and the Vio­lin [Каток и скрипка]
(Traucki 2013) The Jun­gle
(Davies 1980) Madonna and Child
(Cox 2006) Mam­moth
(Carstairs 1954) One Good Turn Read more »

First-time listening for August 2014

24602. (Cocteau Twins) BBC Ses­sions
24603. (Armens) Six dif­férents
24604. (Lon­don Gram­mar) If You Wait
24605. (Johannes Ock­egham) Vire­lai: “Ma bouche rit
24606. (Johannes Ock­egham) Ron­deau: “Presque transi
24607. (Johannes Ock­egham) Rondeau-Canon: “Prenez sur moi Read more »

READINGAUGUST 2014

24633. (Mau­rice LeBlanc) [Arsène Lupin] L’Aiguille creuse
24634. (Oliver Gold­smith) An Essay on the The­atre [arti­cle]
24635. (Oliver Gold­smith) Reg­is­ter of Scotch Mar­riages [arti­cle]
24536. (Lester B. Pear­son) The Cri­sis of Devel­op­ment
24537. (Jane J. Lee) First Nation Tribe Dis­cov­ers Griz­zly Bear “High­way” in Its Back­yard
. . . . . [arti­cle]
24538. (Amy Ger­man) Oujé-Bougoumou Finally Attains For­mal Recog­ni­tion [arti­cle]
24539. (Keith Knapp) Review of Death in Ancient China by Con­stance A. Cook [review] Read more »

Thursday, August 7, 2014 — The Mammoth Cheese

14-08-07 BLOG The Original Mammoth Cheese

The orig­i­nal Mam­moth Cheese of Inger­soll, Ontario, in 1866.

Read more »

FILMSJULY 2014

(Flo­rey 1932) Mur­ders in the Rue Morgue
(Yarbrough 1946) The She-Wolf of Lon­don
(Donen 1967) Bedaz­zled
(Davies 1976) Chil­dren
(Lot­terby 1986) Yes, Prime Min­is­ter: Ep.3 ― The Smoke Screen
(Lot­terby 1986) Yes, Prime Min­is­ter: Ep.4 ― The Key
(Mar­tino 1978) Moun­tain of the Can­ni­bal God Read more »

First-time listening for July 2014

24560. (Josquin des Prez) Missa Mal­heur me bat
24561. (Josquin des Prez) Missa For­tuna des­per­ata
24562. (Nol­wenn Leroy) Bre­tonne
24563. (Wil­son Pick­ett) The Very Best of Wil­son Pick­ett
24564. (Trey Anas­ta­sio) Sur­ren­der to the Air
24565. (Soeurs Goadec) Pub­lic à Bobino Read more »

READINGJULY 2014

24598. [6] (Edgar Pang­born) A Mir­ror for Observers
24599. (Mikhail Vasi­lye­vich Lomonosov) An Evening Reflec­tion Upon God’s Grandeur
. . . . . Prompted by the Great North­ern Lights [Вечернее размышление о божием
. . . . . величестве при случае великаго северного сияния] (poem)
24600. (Mikhail Zoshchenko) Hon­est Cit­i­zen [story]
24601. (Brian M. Sta­ble­ford) Jour­ney to the Cen­ter
24602. (Anon. c. 1300) Ómag­yar Mária-siralom [Lamen­ta­tions of Mary] Read more »

We have seen thee, queen of cheese

I’m doing a lit­tle research on Cana­dian lit­er­a­ture of the 19th cen­tury. This is not a field that over­whelms the researcher with an abun­dance of mas­ter­pieces. Canada, at this time, was an empty, rugged, pio­neer­ing place, vaguely British in the soci­ety of its small urban elite, but for most peo­ple cul­tur­ally closer the the west­ern parts of the United States. Mon­treal had a mod­est lit­er­ary life in French, draw­ing on sev­eral cen­turies of folk­lore and even pro­duc­ing a few operas. These works were unknown in the rest of the French-speaking world. English-speaking Mon­treal­ers were more inter­ested in com­merce than cul­ture. Out­side of Mon­treal, the only real city, there was not much other than small towns, farms and wilder­ness.  Read more »

FILMSJUNE 2014

(Singer 2000) X-Men [Riff­Trax ver­sion]
(Barry 1975) Poldark: Ep.2
(Barry 1975) Poldark: Ep.3
(Sagal 1971) The Omega Man
(Slatzer 1968) The Hell­cats [Mys­tery Sci­ence The­atre ver­sion] Read more »